Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred Honor

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240 years ago, 56 men gathered in a room to put the finishing touches on a document they had spent the previous 19 days working on.  These men were’t a rag-tag group of disgruntled whiners who were upset because someone offended them.  They were well-to-do professionals who saw consistent abuses by their government and determined to make it right. And so they penned these words:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The Declaration of Independence

Paul Harvey once spoke on the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.  It is well worth the 10 minutes of your life to hear their resolve.

Life is all about making and following through with commitments. Sometimes these are rather straightforward (I daresay, simple) commitments while other times, these commitments, like those made by the Founding Fathers, are extremely difficult.  Nevertheless, it is through our resolve that we make a difference in life.

What frustrates me is that I continually fall short on keeping my resolve with regards to things I know I need to do: read my scriptures, pray as a family, exercise, write in my journal, etc. I think this is where the concept of “enduring to the end” comes into play.  Heavenly Father knew from the beginning that man would find it difficult to follow through on commitments.  He even came up with a method to help us get back on the wagon when we fell off…repentance! Now, I’m not saying that every time we fail to hold strong to our resolve we commit sin, but I am saying that there are times when failing to stay strong to our commitments is a sin.


Now for the big question…now for the reason for this post…

What is your resolve?  For what are you willing to sign your name and pledge your life, fortune, and sacred honor?

If you do not know, then you need to find out. To go through this life without something to commit to, is to sail the seas with only a mast–no cloth.  Furthermore, our resolve extends to everything we do in this life.  Our commitment defines our character…who we are.  It used to be that when a man shook hands, he gave his word.  Is that true for you?  Is your word something people can believe?

Greater Love Hath No Man Than This…

Memorial Day is our opportunity to honor those individuals who gave their life in the service of our country.  It is a day to celebrate the freedom which has been paid for with blood.  It is the day to remember that God alone leads this Nation and will continue to lead this Nation as we remember Him…or in the words of George Washington, “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.” Today is my tribute to those who have “slipped the surly bonds of earth” and are now “dancing the skies on laughter-silvered wings” (High Flight).

As we celebrate this weekend, it is worth remembering the words of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Another speech worthy of our study is Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech given 23 March 1775.  Somedays I worry that the passion, dedication, and patriotism demonstrated by Patrick Henry has gone from our country…then I visit one of our Military cemeteries and I see Patrick Henry’s commitment etched in stone on marker after marker.


At my 20th class reunion, they shared a video tribute to the thirteen classmates I went to school with. Today, I want to share my thoughts regarding these men who sacrificed all so I could raise my children in a free country.

One of these men I knew very well…David Weber.  I’ll never forget the day he died…28 January 1994.  Dave loved to fly and was sitting back seat of a tow plane when the pilot suffered a massive heart attack and sent the plane into a nose dive.  Dave tried to recover the aircraft, but was not successful.  I went to his funeral in Star Valley, Wyoming–met his brother who was serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Eric Das.  He was shot down over Iraq on 3 August 2003 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery with his Weapons Officer, William Watkins (they were the 27th and 28th casualties from Operation Iraqi Freedom to be buried in Arlington).

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General Jumper, Chief of Staff, USAF, salutes at the funeral of Eric Das

Ed Wooten.  He never knew the impact he had on my life. Our interaction was but a few short weeks, but those few weeks changed the course of my life and solidified my commitment to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jonathan Scheer and I spent 6 weeks together in Basic Training and then a year together in our first Squadron, the Phantoms of 24.  He died on 25 Feb 2004 when his A-10 crashed while on a training mission in Alaska.

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Jon Scheer is in the back row, second from the left

I didn’t know Frank Bryant while we were at school, but his death was particularly poignant for me.  He died 27 April 2011 at the hands of an Afghan in the middle of staff meeting at Kabul International Airport.  Like Frank, I sat in many staff meetings in Afghanistan in that same area during my deployment to Afghanistan in 2009.  I walked an through several Afghan National Army bases and was concerned at times for my safety.  Perhaps I should have been even more concerned than I was.


Let us never forget the men who died to keep us free.

Furthermore, let us ever live with honor, courage, and love in their memory.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Mother, Mum, Mommy

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A Hen Gathers Her Chicks (image from ldsmag.com)

Some of these blogs are easy to write and some are more difficult.  You would think this topic would be easy to write about…mothers.  It’s difficult because words fail to adequately describe the importance of mothers in our life. As a child, the most important woman in my life was my mother.  She was always there to protect me, take care of me, and teach me.  I like the image of a hen gathering her chicks…it reminds me of my mother and how she was always there to take care of me.

 

I will never forget a visit my mother made to my home while I was stationed in South Korea.  We took a day trip to the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.  Our guide briefed us “if you hear gunfire while we are in the DMZ, you need to run to the bus immediately.  As soon as most of you are here, we will leave.”  Notice he said most, not all.  I was immediately tormented.  What if something happens and my mother isn’t in the group that makes it to the bus before it leaves?  Fortunately, our visit was uneventful–there was no gunfire.

IMG_3997Now, some counsel for my children.  At some point in your life, you will leave home and
venture through life on your own.  As you do so, I admonish you to never forget your mother.  You will have many friends come and go.  You’ll have roommates that will be become best friends…and then fade away.  You will even find other woman who stand in the role of a mother-away-from-home.  But you will never have another mother.  She will be a constant in your life.  She should hold the preeminent place of honor in your life. The First Presidency said, “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels” (Conference Report October 1942, 12-13, quoted in Strengthening the Family).

I appreciated what one of the speakers (Keith Chapman) said at church yesterday.  He said he knew the mothers in our congregation were good women because of their fruit.  He sees the goodness of the mothers reflected in the lives of their children. I know the mother of my children is a good and honorable woman because I see it in her fruit…I see her goodness in our children.

Let me now give tribute to the mother of my children. She is the giver of life to my offspring.  She is the nurturer of truth to the future.  She is the defender of virtue and the teacher of honor. She is the vessel of beauty that brightens our home. She is the light of the spirit that leads our family to eternity.

In all my life, I’ve only been ready to fight someone once.  One time in 40 years, I’ve taken my coat off, thrown it on the ground, and prepared to throw a punch.  The occasion…someone offended my wife.  I’ll never forget the change in the man I was facing when he realized that his arrogant position was no longer tenable in my life…something was going to change.  Fortunately, he raised his hands, backed down, and walked away.

Captain Moroni called his people to battle with these words on the Title of Liberty: “In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (Alma 46:12).

Let no man offend the mother of my children lest he desire to receive my wrath and my fury!

Easter Morning

Some days are good for long posts…today is not one of those days. Today is a day where brevity of words is meant to emphasis the importance of the message.

On this Easter Sabbath, we can be sure that through the Resurrection, Jesus Christ lives; because He lives, we all will live again.

On this Easter Sabbath, we can be sure that He is Risen.

Never forget that the tomb is empty…death has no victory!

#Hallelujah

#FollowHim

#HallelujahChoir

#BecauseofHim
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Holy Week

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A new day dawns from the top of Kilimanjaro

I love this time of year when the Earth renews itself by sprouting forth flowers and grass.  A time when the animals reappear in abundance after a long winter rest, when a sunrise symbolizes new birth.  As we prepare for Easter Sunday, I would like to share some thoughts on Holy Week.  I have shared these thoughts before, but this is the first time I have compiled them into a single place.  I want my family to know that each day of the coming week is significant.  We shouldn’t celebrate Easter by itself, rather, we should recognize each day for what the Savior taught us.


SundayOn Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was welcomed by his followers who covered the path before him with palm fronds and cried “Hosanna, blessed is the King of Israel” (John 12:13). He was welcomed as a King..someone who would deliver the Israelites from the burdens of Roman rule.  The people were excited to see him!  I learned recently that the word “Hosanna” comes from the Hebrew words “hoshi” and “ahna”.  Literally translated “Hosanna” means “save us now”. The people were excited because they were welcoming their Deliverer from Roman rule.  Little did they understand that deliverance from Roman rule would come in the next life through the Atonement of Christ.

May we welcome Christ into our hearts and lives with excitement and honor.


MondayToday, the Savior went to the Temple and removed the money changes. Why were the money changers in the Temple in the first place?  There was a requirement to pay a Temple tax of 1/2 shekel per annum (Exodus 30:13, Matthew 17:24-27). Unfortunately, the Jewish shekel wasn’t in circulation, so people would bring their Roman coins to the Temple and exchange them for Jewish shekels in order to pay the Temple tax. Over time, this evolved into a full-fledged market…with all the noise, bustle, and filth associated with market places. His act of cleansing the Temple of the money changers (Matthew 21:12-13, John 2:13-16) inspires me because he was so deliberate, so calm, so controlled. Too often, when we see things that anger us, we fail to channel that anger into a righteous response.

It’s ok to be angry; however, it is not ok to lose control. 


TuesdayNow that the Savior has entered Jerusalem, the Scribes begin to get nervous and question his authority. Unfortunately for them, they are unable to answer his question regarding baptism and are therefore denied an answer to the source of his authority (Matthew 21:23-27). I can imagine how confused they must have been when the Savior began telling parables which, to the natural man, are just stories.

How often do we question the authority of Jesus Christ? How often do we feel that our problems, our situation, our lives are “more complicated” than others. How often do we feel that “it’s different with me”?

The Son of God knows us all. The Son of God is the Savior for all. There is none on Earth who are so different, so troubled, or so destitute, that he can’t redeem.


WednesdayIt isn’t clearly recorded in the Bible what the Savior did on Wednesday. I believe he continued teaching his disciples. One of my favorite parables is the Parable of the Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31-46). It reminds me that I can’t put off serving until I see the Savior, for when I serve (or fail to serve) those I interact with every day, it is the same as if I served (or didn’t serve) the Master himself (see Mosiah 2:17).

notre Dame3 25 Apr 01I remember being approached by a beggar in front of Notre Dame many years ago. She asked me if I spoke English…and to my shame, I said no and walked on. Every time I see a beggar, I see that woman’s face and regret my response so long ago. I think that motivates me today to try and serve those around me. I still am not perfect, there are (many) times I fall short, but I hope my efforts are acceptable.

Jesus Christ taught beautifully and simply. All we need to do is listen to the Spirit and we can understand the parables and see the pathway back to our Father’s house. As I study the words of Christ and apply the parables to my own life, I feel closer to the Savior. He loves us, he wants us to do good. Nothing is hidden, there are no secrets to Eternal Life.

His life is an Open Book…pick it up, read it, ponder it, then go and do something about it.


ThursdayToday is a great and terrible day in the life of the Savior. He gathered his disciples in a borrowed room (Matthew 26:17-18) and celebrated the Passover. Here he broke the bread, blessed it and told his disciples “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). Likewise he took the cup of wine, blessed it and told his disciples “this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). I can imagine the furrowed brows and confused looks from his disciples as they ate and drank.

After the Passover meal, the scriptures tell us they sang a hymn (Matthew 26:30). I love this verse for music is a blessing in my life–it is the one thing that will almost always calm my son when he’s troubled. I like to think that the hymn Christ sang with his disciples calmed his soul and gave him encouragement for the next event of the night…the agony of Gethsemane.jesus-praying-in-gethsemane-39591-gallery

When they arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ left his disciples near the gate, then he went alone into the Garden and prayed. I cannot imagine what he felt and endured as he suffered for the sins of all mankind.  Not just our sins, but our sorrows and griefs as well. So great was his agony that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Then, when had finished the work in the Garden, he was betrayed by Judas to a band of soldiers.

The question is: how many drops of blood were shed for me?


jesus-christ-crown-thorns-827201-mobile.jpgFridayToday is a dark day. Having suffered through the Agony of Gethsemane just a few hours ago, the Savior is brought before Annas, Caiaphas, and finally to Pontius Pilate. This man had the power to free the Savior (and was even encouraged to do so by his wife), but he was weak and gave in to the cries of the crowd: “Crucify him!” (Luke 23:21). Through all this, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Savior of Mankind was questioned, scourged, spit upon, and mocked with a crown of thorns. The one line that really impacts me is “he held his peace” (Mark 14:61). Knowing he was right, knowing what his mission was, he could have called down legions of angels to defeat his antagonists (Matthew 26:53), but he didn’t. He Held His Peace.

After all this suffering, he was paraded through narrow, crowded streets to Golgotha and there was crucified.

It amazes me that even while hanging on the cross, Jesus Christ forgave his crucifiers. He comforted the thieves beside him. He lovingly ensured his mother would be taken care of. Am I as forgiving, comforting, and loving?

Then the Son of God died. His spirit left his body and his body was placed in a borrowed tomb. In life and in death, he had no place to call his own.

His disciples were told very clearly before his death that he would rise again, but I wonder if they knew what that really meant. Can you imagine the tears that were shed for this sinless man?

Even the heavens wept at his death. This is surely the darkest day in the history of mankind.


Saturday – Today saw the sun rise to a world in mourning. Jesus Christ died yesterday afternoon. Being the Sabbath, nothing is done with his body today…just weeping and mourning. So what of the Savior on this day? Peter tells us that Christ went to the spirits and taught his gospel (1 Peter 3:18-20).

There are many websites that discuss what this really means. I believe he went to the spirit world and taught those spirits who knew not his gospel. I believe he organized teachers in that realm to continue the work after he ascended to heaven (for certainly there are souls that continue to die not having tasted of the love of Christ).

This is a day to to remember the words of the psalmist: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10).


Sunday – Oh Glorious Day! When Mary went to the sepulcher this morning, she found the stone removed from the doorway and no body in the tomb! When asked who she was looking for, her reply brought the statement from the angels “why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, he is risen!” (Luke 24:5-6). As dark as was the night he died, how bright the morn’ when he arose. My heart is full of joy in knowing that the Son of God conquered all. The Savior of the World broke the shackles of death—death has no sting. Jesus Christ lives! He paid the awful price for our sins and now sits in glory ready to welcome us home to our Father’s mansion.

Christ the Lord is Risen today! Praise the Lord!

#Hallelujah

Symbols of Christmas

What do the things we associate with Christmas mean to me? These are all my personal thoughts–they don’t represent the official doctrine of any church.

Christmas Lights: this represents the Light of Christ to the World. (John 8:12, 12:46). Check out some amazing Light displays in Washington DC, Mesa Arizona, St Louis, and around the world.

Christmas Tree: the Evergreen tree never loses it’s leaves (needles).  It is always green, reminding us of an undying life in following Christ Jesus. It is also a representation of the Tree of Life (Genesis 2:9; 1 Nephi 11:25). One of my favorite stories about Christmas trees is “Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect

Star on Christmas Tree: represents the Star of Bethlehem which guided the Wise Men

Candy Canes: there are many stories of how candy canes came to being.  I enjoy thinking that they are in the shape of a shepherd’s staff reminding us that Christ is the Good Shepherd leading us to Eternal Life

Red & White: red represents the blood of Christ freely spilt for us; white represents eternal life. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).

Gift giving: Jesus gave us the ultimate gift when he atoned for our sins; the wise men came bearing gifts. We emulate his example by giving gifts

Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh: I believe the gold given to the Christ child financed his move to Egypt to protect him from King Herod; the Frankincense is representative of the incense burned in the Temple (which is itself a symbol of our offering to the Lord); I think of the Myrrh as the oil used to anoint the Savior

Shepherds: shepherds abide in their fields during lambing season.  Their role was to certify the first born lambs (to be offered for sacrifice).  The angels came to the shepherds because it was their job to certify the first born lamb…the Son of God.

Caroling: just as the shepherds heard “a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13-14), we also sing praises to the world.

Ornaments on the tree: these represent the blessings we’ve received, the memories we’ve made. I believe the ball ornaments remind us of eternity (just as wedding rings remind us of eternity)

Santa Claus: there is much debate surrounding Father Christmas.  I like to believe that he represents the Savior–freely giving gifts to all

 

All this leads to the true reason for the season…

the Birth of Jesus Christ!

The Savior of the World born in the flesh!

#aSaviorisBorn

#HeIsTheGift

 

What Christmas Symbols do you enjoy?

 

Thanksgiving

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”  (1 Thess 5:18)

It’s not always easy for me to remember to give thanks in all things.  It is much easier to remember to give thanks when things are going well. There are , however, blessings that come from remembering to give thanks.

Luke shares an account the Savior had with ten lepers.

And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:10-19).

In this, the important lesson comes at the end. After all 10 lepers were healed, one of them stopped and gave thanks to the Lord. It is after he “fell down on his face…giving him thanks” that the Lord provided the ultimate blessing. You see, 10 were healed of leprosy, but only 1 was made whole. Only one was forgiven of his sins! That is the power of expressing gratitude!

I’m sure all 10 of the lepers were very happy to be healed of this awful disease. I have to wonder though, how long that happiness lasted for the nine who showed no gratitude? I’m not suggesting that happiness is dependent upon gratitude, but I am suggesting that lasting happiness is founded upon an attitude of gratitude.

We find another example of giving thanks to God in the Book of Mormon. King Benjamin, in his final address to his people, provided some great council regarding gratitude.

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God. Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another? And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you O how ye ought to thank your heavenly King! I say unto you, my brethren, that if ye should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possessI say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” (Mosiah 2:18-21 emphasis added)

This passage is interesting because it ties together the concept of giving thanks to the concept of serving God. This leads me to the understanding then that one way we show thanks and gratitude to our Heavenly Father is by serving Him…and one way we can serve Him is by serving our fellow man.

This Thanksgiving Day I went with my son and a few other young men from church to help serve dinners at Faith Lutheran Church in O’Fallon, Illinois. There were about 230 dinners served to all sorts of people. I have to be honest though, I wasn’t very excited about leaving my family on Thanksgiving Day to go and serve dinner to strangers. In fact, I almost just dropped off my son and went back home, but I decided it would be better to serve with my son than to have him serve alone…so I went. I’m glad I did.

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Thanksgiving Dinner At Faith Lutheran Church

I appreciated the smiles of those who enjoyed a good meal. I saw the grace of God in another volunteer as she sat with a lone man—his face etched with hidden pain. My heart was filled with gratitude for good people who feel the call of the Savior to feed the hungry (Luke 3:11, Isaiah 58:7, Matthew 25:34-45).

A word of warning regarding expressing thanks: we should ensure that as we express thanks and gratitude that we do not become like the Zoramites in the Book of Mormon. As Alma and his brethren were traveling through on their mission,

“they found that the Zoramites had built synagogues, and that they did gather themselves together on one day of the week, which day they did call the day of the Lord; and they did worship after a manner which Alma and his brethren had never beheld; For they had a place built up in the center of their synagogue, a place for standing, which was high above the head; and the top thereof would only admit one person. Therefore, whosoever desired to worship must go forth and stand upon the top thereof, and stretch forth his hands towards heaven, and cry with a loud voice, saying: Holy, holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou wilt be a spirit forever. Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou hast elected us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ. But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast elected us that we shall be saved, whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God. And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a chosen and a holy people. Amen.” (Alma 31:12-18).

Sure, the Zoramites were praying, but they lacked other qualities of a follower of Christ: namely humility & compassion. We see the correct pattern for prayer as Christ taught his disciples to pray on the Mount of Beatitudes:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

At first glance, the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t seem to express thanks or gratitude. What it does show is the importance of our attitude as we pray. The Pharisees prayed to be seen of men. Jesus was teaching that we should pray not to be seen of men, but to heard of God. He was teaching that must pray with an attitude of Thanksgiving.

Elder David A. Bednar shared an experience he had when he was President of BYU-Idaho that really drives home the impact of praying with thanksgiving.

During our service at Brigham Young University–Idaho, Sister Bednar and I frequently hosted General Authorities in our home. Our family learned an important lesson about meaningful prayer as we knelt to pray one evening with a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Earlier in the day Sister Bednar and I had been informed about the unexpected death of a dear friend, and our immediate desire was to pray for the surviving spouse and children. As I invited my wife to offer the prayer, the member of the Twelve, unaware of the tragedy, graciously suggested that in the prayer Sister Bednar express only appreciation for blessings received and ask for nothing. His counsel was similar to Alma’s instruction to the members of the ancient Church “to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things” (Mosiah 26:39). Given the unexpected tragedy, requesting blessings for our friends initially seemed to us more urgent than expressing thanks.

Sister Bednar responded in faith to the direction she received. She thanked Heavenly Father for meaningful and memorable experiences with this dear friend. She communicated sincere gratitude for the Holy Ghost as the Comforter and for the gifts of the Spirit that enable us to face adversity and to serve others. Most importantly, she expressed appreciation for the plan of salvation, for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, for His Resurrection, and for the ordinances and covenants of the restored gospel which make it possible for families to be together forever.

Our family learned from that experience a great lesson about the power of thankfulness in meaningful prayer. Because of and through that prayer, our family was blessed with inspiration about a number of issues that were pressing upon our minds and stirring in our hearts. We learned that our gratefulness for the plan of happiness and for the Savior’s mission of salvation provided needed reassurance and strengthened our confidence that all would be well with our dear friends. We also received insights concerning the things about which we should pray and appropriately ask in faith.

How often do our prayers include more “I ask thee” than “I thank thee”?

How often do we pray simply to give thanks to Heavenly Father for the many blessings we have? Sometimes our circumstance makes it difficult to pray with thanksgiving when everything around us seems to be falling apart. The simple act of being grateful in the midst of challenges will help us overcome all things.

So what are some of the things I am thankful for?

  • First and foremost, I am thankful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ…the Plan of Salvation…the Plan of Happiness…the Plan of Mercy. Call it what you may, it brings peace and happiness to my life. In fact, this single “thing” is the foundation for everything else that I am thankful for.

  • Family – Everything I do in this life is for my family. It may not always seem like it to my family, but there is no other place I’d rather be than with them.

  • Home – Heavenly Father has truly blessed my family with an amazing home that provides shelter from the rain, warmth from the snow, and protection from evil.

  • Health – Watching extended family suffer through illness has made me more appreciative of my own health. We all think that we are invincible—that we will never get sick or die—but we will.

  • Employment – Heavenly Father blessed me with a wonderful military career. Then he allowed me to leave early and provided a contractor position with no period of unemployment. Most recently, he blessed me to obtain a management position with a fantastic company.

  • Service Opportunities – As the leader of the Young Men in our congregation, I have the best calling in the church. I get to work not only with other members of the ward, but I get to work directly with my own son. What better way to serve the Lord than to serve your own family at the same time!

  • Freedom – There are so many people in the world who live without the freedoms we have. Freedom of press, speech, religion. Freedom of travel, freedom of choice. These freedoms come at a very high price though—we owe it to all who serve and who have served to treasure that freedom. We also owe it to those without these freedoms to help them in every way possible.

  • Music – I love feeling the spirit that comes from listening to the sacred hymns of the gospel. I love the calmness that music brings to my soul.

There are many other things for which I am grateful. I’ll end this with the Lord’s council to Joseph Smith: “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things…And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:7, 21).

See also:

Grateful in Any Circumstances

Give Thanks in All Things

Lord’s Prayer – Thanksgiving